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Excess Crude Account: FRC Urges Constitutional Amendment

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The acting Chairman,
Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) Mr Victor Muruako says, the Nigerian constitution needs to be amended to state clearly, the terms and conditions for withdrawal from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
Muruako said this yesterday in Abuja at a one-day Sensitisation programme on Continuous Audit with the theme Continuous Audit: A tool for ensuring transparency and accountability in government financial business.
He said that the constitution should be amended to incorporate ECA as part of section 162 dealing with the operation of the federation account.
He said that this was necessary to safeguard the ECA from withdrawals outside the purpose for which the account is maintained.
The Tide source recalls that the Excess Crude Account was established in 2004 and its objective is primarily to protect planned budgets against shortfalls due to variance in crude oil prices.
By delinking government expenditures from oil revenues, the Excess Crude account aims to insulate the Nigerian Economy from external shocks.
However, the mode and manner of operations and withdrawal has always generated friction between the states and the federal government.
Whenever there is shortfall in monthly revenue generation, states agitate during the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting for withdrawal from the account to augment revenue.
“For the full benefit of effective plugging of revenue leakages to be achieved, the revenue management system must be kept simple with minimal discretionary powers for the managers of the system.
“Adequate infrastructure must be provided and the need for transparency emphasised in every respect. Political influence should not erode the revenue authorities and there should be legal sanctions for fraudulent revenue officers,” he said.
Muruako said also, that for the good of the economy, there was a need for increased collaboration on revenue generation and monitoring among government agencies, Federal Ministry of Finance and Budget Office of the Federation.
He said there was the need for a proactive and effective reconciliation of Ministries Departments and Agencies’ accounts on a regular basis to check unwholesome practices that may not be routed through the remittance platform.
Muruako said that the commission was working with the Ministry of Finance to fashion out an Operating SurplusTemplate, which he said would help get government get the right revenue from its agencies.
Also speaking the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris  has called for a general reorientation in the way and manner government business is conducted in order to mitigate the effects of recession in the economy.
“Nigeria is presently undergoing robust changes in the public financial management, thus the quest for higher performance on transparency and accountability could not be overemphasised.
“It is clearly understood that reforms such the adoption of IPSAS Accrual basis, IPPIS programme, TSA implementation could only survive the test of time if our financial management system is predicated on integrity, transportation and accountability.
“More than ever before, there is need for commitment of all to overcome our common economic and developmental challenges,” he said.
Also, the Secretary, Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, Mr Mohammed Dikwa, said the primary focus of the initiative is to reduce payroll cost and ensure prudent revenue management.
He said that other focus areas include personnel cost management, overhead cost, pension gratuity, debt servicing, capital supplementation, service wide vote and statutory transfers.
He said all these were to identify areas of wastage and leakages, block and streamline them to build critical sectors of the economy.

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Estate Surveyors Reject Housing Deficit Report

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The Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) has disagreed with the report of housing deficit in Nigeria, insisting that there is no proof to justify the report.
The institution also corroborated the assertion of the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, that Nigeria does not have a 17 million housing deficit.
A recent report had indicated that there are 17 million housing deficit in Nigeria. 
President of NIESV, Emma OkasWike, who faulted the report in an interaction with newsmen, Monday, said the body was in full agreement with the minister’s statement and position on the matter. 
“We are in total agreement with the minister on the unreliability of the 17 million housing deficit being brandished in Nigeria for lacking scientific proof.
“We are using this opportunity to reaffirm the importance of data bank and our commitment to the provision of a property data bank for all state capitals and major cities in Nigeria”, NIESV president said.
Wike, however, agreed that there are more demands in housing sector due to mass movement from rural areas to urban centres, adding that when demand exceeds supply, there will be scarcity. 
He said that the solution to the problem lies in having accurate data of empty houses in the cities, which could assist in further planning.
The NIESV president hinted that his institution had been challenged to come up with accurate data on the housing issue, pointing out that such data would help solving the housing problem.
“We have laws in this country, and law is not the problem; it is not enough to say repeal the law, but the implementation is the problem.
“The communities fighting over land, resulted in enacting the Land Use Act, and every section of the Land Use Act has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. The administration of the law is the problem we have in this country, but not the law perse”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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FG To Shut Ikorodu Terminal Over Explosive Overtime Cargoes

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Strong indications have emerged that the Federal Government may shut down the Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos over the recent alarm raised by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) on some explosive overtime cargoes.
Members of the Governing Board, NPA, had recently expressed worries over some overtime cargoes that have been abandoned for over 44 years at the facility, even as they called on management of the Nigeria Customs Service to expedite actions to evacuate some of the detained consignments.
Speaking with our correspondent recently on the next line of actions by the NPA Board in furtherance to the evacuation of the dangerous cargoes, one of the board members, Hon. Ghazali Mohammed Mijinyawa, said government might shut down the facility due to high risk involved.
The board member reiterated that the explosive cargoes pose serious threat to the facility and the nation, adding that it would be wise for government to shut down the terminal and give rooms for the evacuation of such items.
According to him, the executive board of NPA will hold a retreat to determine the next line of actions on Ikorodu Lighter Terminal in Lagos.
“The executive management would have a retreat and I wouldn’t tell you what the retreat is all about but in two weeks time, we are going to shut the port terminal at Ikorodu and that is what we are going to do”, he reaffirmed.
On the issue of revoking the licenses of some terminal operators,  Mijinyawa said plans were afoot to review the port concession agreement in order to be fair to all parties involved in the process of renewal.
Mijinyawa who is also the chairman, Seaport Concession, NPA, pointed out that the terminal operators had testified that NPA was committed to the concession agreement and would further ensure fair play to all parties involved in the renewal process.
He said, “We have to sit down and have a review of everything and of course if there are those worthy of renewal we just have to give them that opportunity but for the ones that have defaulted, it is better you find out why they default before any necessary actions because you just have to strike a balance.
“It’s not a matter of I am not going to renew the agreement but to find out why are they not functioning properly. Is it because of the Covid? Is it the NPA defaulting? Is it them defaulting? So, you just have to go through the documents and see for yourself before you make a judgment of that; so that we can be fair to all parties”.
 According to him, the terminal operators appreciated the efforts of the NPA on the working relationship between stakeholders as against the backdrop of port operations since 2006.

By: NkpemenyieMcdominic, Lagos

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CBN Not Supporting Solid Minerals Dev  – Minister

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The Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, DrUche Ogah, has alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has not been supporting the development of the mines and solid mineral sector in the country. 
The minister made the allegation at a two-day public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Solid Minerals, Mines, Steel Development and Metallurgy.
The forum was aimed at getting inputs of stakeholders to the contents of four bills on how to achieve rapid development of the solid minerals sector.
The bills are Nigerian Minerals Development Corporation Establishment Bill 2021, Solid Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Establishment Bill 2021, Institute of Bitumen Management Establishment Bill 2021, and the Explosive Act 1964 Repeal and Re-enactment Bill 2021.
The panel is also expected to investigate the loss of $9 billion annually due to illegal mining and smuggling of gold.
Ogah said, “It is unfortunate that the Central Bank of Nigeria did not believe in us. If they believe in us, if they support us the way they are supporting agriculture, we will do wonders for this country.
“This is one ministry that is untapped, that is unknown, that can change the landscape of our revenue.”
The minister said there was need to support research for growth of the sector.
According to him, “Equally, we need to ask the Ministry of Finance to speed up the export policy on solid minerals because that is the only way to have operators into the sector”.
Ogah urged citizens to be involved in checking the activities of intruders in the mining sub-sector.

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